Scott Pruitt: Trump With Manners

Pruittism is a more gentlemanly form of Trumpism.
10/31/2017 11:59 am ET Updated Nov 01, 2017

Pruittism is a more gentlemanly form of Trumpism. Scott Pruitt, the EPA Administrator, is like a bank robber who wears a suit and asks for the money politely—same outcome, better manners. That seems to have obscured for some people how much Pruitt operates based on the core principles of the Trump presidency.

Fake Facts

Most fundamentally, both Trump and Pruitt base their approaches to governance on a disregard for the facts. For the President, it means making up fake voters, erroneous tax and healthcare information, and misrepresenting his own actions. For Pruitt, it includes falsehoods about climate science, coal jobs, and his use of private e-mails.

In keeping with that attitude, both have removed information from government web sites to avoid having the data contradict their policy preferences or make them look bad.

Swampiness

President Trump and Administrator Pruitt have also surrounded themselves with insiders and lobbyists— handing over public policy to those who’ve made a living pushing narrow private interests. Trump put Wall Street bankers in charge of fiscal policy, while Pruitt picked chemical industry insiders to decide which chemicals are safe for your kids (and a coal lobbyist as his principal deputy for all of EPA).

Pruitt has even set up new rules for membership on EPA advisory panels that favor scientists who are funded by industry.

Reckless with our health

The Trump budget recklessly cut important government programs, from food safety to disaster preparedness, seemingly without any careful thought about the damage it would cause. Pruitt’s EPA is the same: A proposed 30% cut that would return the agency to 1970s funding levels, without regard for the increases in asthma attacks, health problems, and pollution that would result.

The Cult

As some conservative commentators have pointed out, Trump is trying to build a cult of personality—something sorely at odds with John Adams-style republican conservativism. His only test for people is whether they genuflect; for policies it’s whether they aggrandize him.

Pruitt seems to be falling in line with what the leader wants in that regard, too. He recently described his view of Trump by saying, “I seek every day, and I mean this sincerely, to bless him. I want to bless him and the decisions he’s making.”

Ethical blindness

Trump’s ethical problems are well known. Pruitt, on a less grand scale, has been criticized for using taxpayer-funded travel for what seems like political purposes, and taken expensive rides on private planes when alternatives were available.

Pruitt, admittedly, does not engage in the same aggressive bullying that the President has made his trademark, but there are signs his agency is becoming more Trumpian in this regard, too. His spokesperson recently lashed out at a reporter, refusing to answer questions about an EPA official’s potential conflict of interest, calling it a “fixation on writing elitist clickbait.”

The bottom line is that Pruitt, in substance, isn’t much different from Trump. I’m sure he’d be more polite at a party, and certainly nicer if he were another parent at your kid’s school. But in terms of how he’s using the public office that’s been entrusted to him, Pruittism is nearly indistinguishable from Trumpism.

On Twitter @RealKeithGaby

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